Don’t fall for “fake news” that fraud charges against Kapa-Community Ministry International – tagged as a “Ponzi” scam perpetrator – had been dismissed.
This was what the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) told the investing public in an advisory issued on May 21, stating that criminal cases against Kapa for violations of Republic Act No. 8799, or The Securities Regulation Code (SRC), remained pending in various courts.
The SEC noted that Kapa founder and president Joel Apolinario – along with the group’s other officers – had only managed to secure conditional and temporary liberty after posting bail.
According to the SEC, Kapa supporters and promoters have been circulating videos featuring a purported telephone interview with Apolinario, falsely claiming that all cases against KAPA had been dismissed, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The interview was first posted on May 7 on the YouTube channel of Bong Cagape and shared by channels supporting Kapa.
There were likewise other people who had released commentaries about the effects of the alleged dismissal of the cases against Kapa. One even falsely claimed that the cease and desist order issued by the SEC had become void.
Prosecutors at the Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier charged Apolinario, together with Kapa trustee Margie Danao and corporate secretary Reyna Apolinario, before the Bislig City Regional Trial Court Branch 29 with violating Sections 8(8.1), 26.1 and 28 of the Securities Regulation Code.
The DOJ had also indicted Marisol Diaz, Adelfa Fernandico, Moises Mopia and Reniones Catubigan for promoting the investment scam, in violation of the SRC. The DOJ further charged Diaz before the Antipolo Regional Trial Court for violation of Section 28 of the Securities Regulation Code. It filed similar cases against Mopia and Fernandico at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 93.
On February 19 and 27, the Apolinarios and Catubigan, respectively, surrendered and posted bail for their temporary liberty while facing the investment fraud charges filed by the DOJ.
The criminal proceedings stemmed from the complaint filed by the SEC on June 18, 2019. The SEC discovered that Kapa was enticing the public to invest at least P10,000 in exchange for a 30 percent monthly return for life, without having to do anything other than invest and wait for the payout.
The corporate watchdog also found Kapa to have employed a “Ponzi” scheme, an investment program that offers impossibly high returns and pays investors using the money contributed by later investors.
Aside from the fraud charges initiated by the SEC, founder Joel Apolinario faces charges for the non-bailable offense of syndicated estafa before the Cagayan de Oro City Regional Trial Court Branch 21. The court on February 18 issued a warrant of arrest against Apolinario, along with Junnie Apolinario, Maria Pella Sevilla, Cristobal Barabad, Nonita Urbano, Nelia Nino, Jouelyn Del Castillo, Joji Jusay and Albert Buhangbuhang.
The SEC clarified that the cease and desist order against Kapa became permanent in March 2019 and, as such, remained in full force and effect. It added that the certificate of incorporation of Kapa was subsequently revoked in April 2019.
Meanwhile, the SEC has flagged more groups soliciting investments from the public without the necessary licenses.
In separate advisories, the SEC warned the public against investing in Aquitek Food Trading, MR Lifestyle E-Comm Co. (formerly Don Heraldo Mr. Lifestyle E-Comm Co.), Payadstars/ PayAdStars, I Earn01 Trading, Inc., also known as iEarn, and R3DCON Philippines Corp. and Investor’s Choice.
The groups have neither registered securities such as investment contracts nor secured secondary licenses to solicit and take investments from the public, as required under the SEC.
Those who act as salesmen, brokers, dealers or agents of fraudulent investment schemes may be held criminally liable and penalized with a maximum fine of P5 million or imprisonment of 21 years or both under the securities law.
Republic Act No. 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, further penalizes those participating in cyber incidents that make use or take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to prey on the public through scams, phishing, fraudulent emails, or other similar acts with two-month imprisonment or a maximum fine of P1 million or both.
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